LEWISTON — Gunnar Wade found the magic spot.
The Lewiston senior fired a shot over the shoulder of St. Dominic Academy goalie Gaston Fuksa and under the crossbar, scoring 1:28 into overtime to lift the Blue Devils to a 2-1 victory over the rival Saints in the Class A North boys’ hockey regional final Tuesday at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“He’s such a strong goalie. He’s good, he’s very aggresive, he’s good coverage-wise,” Wade said. “If you see a corner, just, you got to go for it.”
It’s the third straight regional title for the top-seeded Blue Devils (18-2), who will be playing for a third-consecutive state title Saturday against South champion Biddeford at the Colisee.
“It’s great. Never gets old,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “There’s I think 13 new kids in that locker room. It wasn’t easy … it was a hard regular season.
“I hope we can finish off on Saturday against a good Biddeford team.”
The Blue Devils began the game on a torrid pace, but Fuksa was turning away shot after shot. It wasn’t until Ryan Bossie carved some room for a shot from the point that Lewiston was able to light the lamp. Evan Cox fed Bossie, whose rip from the left found its way past Fuksa 10 minutes into the game.
“Quick shot, quick release, getting traffic in front of the net,” Belleau said. “We had to get quick-release shots.”
Fuksa kept it a one-goal game, if only narrowly, when he stopped a shot by Dustin Larochelle on the goal line three minutes later. Video replay upheld the call.
Fuksa made a pair of left leg saves in the final minute, keeping it a 1-0 game heading into the second, despite a 13-4 edge in shots on goal for the Blue Devils.
“There was really nothing wrong going on, it just took a little bit extra harder work and a little bit more heart, and they did it,” St. Dom’s coach Bob Parker said.
The third-seeded Saints (10-9-2) shrunk that shot disparity early in the second period, thanks to five shots on goal during a power play. Yet Lewiston goalie Conrad Albert was up to the task to deny them all.
“We got some more shots on net. We got some power plays,” Parker said. “Our power plays weren’t the best in the world, that’s for sure. But it helped us generate some momentum, getting pucks to the net and feeling comfortable about that, because they do have a good defense.”
St. Dom’s wasn’t nearly as proficient on its second power play of the period, with no shots finding their target. The Saints had two second-period power-
play goals in their regional semifinal win over Edward Little.
“They like to shoot from the point, but if they don’t shoot from the point they like to hit the back door,” Belleau said. “So we wanted to close off the back door, and then we wanted to put a little pressure on their shots from the point.”
The teams traded close chances in the third. Cam Dionne hit the post for Lewiston less than three minutes in, while Dominic Chasse and Hunter Hughes both had good chances stopped by Albert just over two minutes later.
The Blue Devils had a chance to double their lead on a power play midway through the period, but Fuksa turned away a half-dozen shots, including consecutive shots from Bossie at the right point and the left circle.
“Gaston was stellar,” Parker said.
Those missed opportunities left the door open for the Saints to get back in the game, and they walked through that door with just over five minutes left. Chasse’s flip from the left circle was re-directed in by Jaden Webster, tying the game 1-1 with 5:10 left.
“You got to want to get to the net,” Parker said. “And I think Jaden Webster made his way to the net on a pass or a shot.”
Chasse nearly gave the Saints the lead with less than two minutes left, but Albert secured the save on Chasse’s open shot from the slot.
The Blue Devils had their own chances to avoid overtime in the final minute. Evan Cox had a seemingly open shot at Fuksa off a faceoff, but a broken stick sullied the shot attempt. Then, Fuksa had to turn away three close-range shots in the final seconds of regulation.
Albert made a kick save on a Chasse shot a minute into overtime, and Webster just missed wide on the rebound attempt.
“I really saw a really open net, I saw one of our players with the puck on his stick, and I still don’t know where it went,” Parker said. “I literally was picturing it going in. I was ready to raise my arms and go crazy. But it didn’t go in, and then it went the other way and they scored.”
Wade and Sam Frechette skated through center on a 2-on-1. Frechette drove the defender away in the Saints’ zone so Wade could have a 1-on-1 chance with Fuksa.
“I saw that the defense took Sam away, so I was wide open for the shot,” Wade said. “I saw that (Gaston) was kind of pushing to the far side for the pass, so I was just thinking top corner, that was wide open, so I just went for it, and it was successful.”
“Gunnar’s been a critical player for us all year. It’s about keeping your skill set and understanding what you’re good at,” Belleau said. “He’s good at working hard, he’s good at creating turnovers, he’s good at pressuring pucks, and when he gets some ice he’s got some speed, and when he gets a good handle on the stick he can make a good shot, and that’s what happened here. I’m glad that I put him out when I did.”
Fuksa stopped 37 of 39 shots, while Albert made 17 saves for Lewiston.
“You got to take your hat off to St. Dom’s,” Belleau said. “I’m really impressed with the effort of those kids. Not surprised.”
Gunnar Wade’s shot goes over the right shoulder of St. Dom’s goalie Gaston Fuksa in overtime on Tuesday. The goal lifted the Blue Devils to their third straight state chapionship. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
The Lewiston Blue Devils pile on senior Gunnar Wade after he scored the winning goal in overtime against St. Dom’s on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Gunnar Wade of Lewiston High School celebrates with his teammates and coaches after he score the winning goal in overtime against St. Dom’s on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
St. Dom’s goalie Gaston Fuksa makes a save on a shot by Dustin Larochelle of Lewiston during the first period in Lewiston on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Michael Ciley of St. Dom’s skates the puck past Gunnar Wade of Lewiston during the first period in Lewiston on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
St. Dom’s goalie Gaston Fuksa saves a shot by Caden Smith of Lewiston during the second period in Lewiston on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Lewiston senior Gunnar Wade scored in overtime to send the Blue Devils to their third straight state championship. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
St. Dom’s assistant coach Richard Paradis reacts after the Saints tied the game at 1 late in the third period. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)